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Osaka (大阪) is the third largest city in Japan, after Tokyo and Yokohama. Formerly called Naniwa, it has been the economic powerhouse of the Kansai region for many centuries. Nowadays, with a population of almost 3 million, it is the main component of the so-called Keihanshin (京阪神), a metropolitan area that includes the neighboring cities of Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe. The entire Keihanshin has a population of over 19 million people and is Japan's second largest urban region after Tokyo. At first glance, or even just looking at the photos from above, Osaka seems like a less immense version of Tokyo, but in reality there are many facets that make these cities different. There are plenty of things to do and see in Osaka. Some of these aren't that different from what you might do in Tokyo, but the city has several uniqueness as well. Three examples of things you will find in Osaka but not in Tokyo: a large Japanese feudal castle (Osaka Castle), a huge shopping area that develops along the typical covered shopping arcades (Namba), and the legendary Universal Studio Japan amusement park. Last but not least, Osaka is nicknamed the "kitchen of Japan" because of its culinary delicacies, and its street food is considered one of the best in the world.
osaka giant colorful signs

Plan your trip to Osaka

Where to stay the best areas and advice on hotels, hostels, capsule hotels, hotels with panoramic views and other original ideas on where to stay in Osaka
How to get there how to reach Osaka from major cities in Japan and from abroad

Connections with the city's airports

Osaka Kansai the city's international airport
Osaka Itami the second airport of the city, where only domestic flights land

Osaka travel guide area by area

Central Osaka can be divided into two large areas, known as Kita (北, "north") and Minami (南, "south"). Kita is home to the Umeda district, with its important railway hub of Osaka Station, numerous skyscrapers and shopping malls. Minami encompasses the city's most popular neighborhoods for tourists, such as the Namba and Shinsaibashi shopping areas, the Dōtonbori canal, the Nipponbashi otaku area, and the quirky Amerikamura neighborhood. A long and elegant boulevard, Midosuji Dori, connects Kita and Minami through a series of business districts. Further south of Minami there are Shinsekai and Tennoji, two interesting and particular neighborhoods, and the working-class district of Kamagasaki, in whose streets sleep a large number of homeless people. The west side of the city overlooks Osaka Bay, and is home to the city's port and several tourist attractions, including Universal Studios Japan. The east side of the city is home to mainly residential districts, but also Osaka Castle Park and the nearby Osaka Business Park.
Namba the most amazing area of osaka, in the Naniwa district: it includes the areas of Dotonbori, Shinsaibashi, Amerikamura
Nipponbashi (Den Den Town) Akihabara in Tokyo, Nipponbashi in Osaka: heaven for nerds and otakus
Osaka Castle Park the area of the park where the famous castle of the city is located
Shinsekai and Tobita Shinchi a neighborhood that housed one of the most avant-garde amusement parks in all of Asia a hundred years ago, today a neighborhood in decline but with a magical and nostalgic atmosphere (Shinsekai), near one of the largest red light districts in all Japan (Tobita Shinchi)
Tennoji recently modernized area with large shopping malls, home to a large park, a zoo, the tallest skyscraper in Japan and one of the most important temples in Osaka
Umeda the second "downtown" of Osaka after Namba, in the northern part of the city, Kita district

Quick answers about Osaka

Is it worth visiting Osaka?

The short answer is yes, Osaka is definitely worth a visit. Tokyo and Osaka have always been opposite cities, for various reasons. In Osaka, a particular dialect is spoken that is very different from standard Japanese, and the people are known for having mannerisms that are slightly different from the usual Japanese stereotypes. The people of Osaka are considered loud (loud talk), nice and sociable. Walking through the streets of Osaka you will not fail to see a few cigarette butts or other rubbish on the ground, something almost impossible to find in Tokyo and in the north of the country. Downtown Osaka, Namba and Dotonbori in particular, have an atmosphere you won't find in Tokyo. The long covered shopping arcades, the huge illuminated signs, the delicious street food of the region everywhere and at low prices. However, if it is your first trip to Japan, it is necessary to evaluate each case on the basis of the days available and the other places you intend to visit. If you only have time to visit Tokyo and one other location, we do not recommend coming to Osaka. Although with different nuances, these are two large Japanese cities with similar types of attractions. In this case it is recommended to combine Tokyo with a more different location, for example Kyoto, a rural location with hot springs, or Hiroshima and Miyajima. Osaka is perfect in combination with Kyoto if you have enough time, as the two cities are very close. You can base yourself in one or the other, depending on your preferences, and then go on excursions to the nearby city.

How many days do you need to visit Osaka?

What to eat in Osaka?

Map of Osaka

Guided tours, activities and other things to do

If you are planning a trip to Japan and you want to do something more than just visiting famous places and monuments, we suggest you to use Rakuten Travel Experiences.

How to use Rakuten Travel Experiences

Rakuten Travel is a very useful website to enrich your travel experience, especially if you are going solo or it's your first time in Japan.
Because of the language barrier (and more), in Japan it is very difficult to interact with the locals and to get off the tourist track.
Thanks to Rakuten Travel you can find a lot of interesting and sometimes unique guided tours and activities all over Japan (and not only in Japan), that you would otherwise never be able to enjoy.
But there's more: on Rakuten Travel you can also buy tickets for several famous attractions, events, transportation and other useful services for tourists. Last but not least, you can reserve a table in hundreds of restaurants.

Some examples

Take a look at Rakuten Travel Experiences

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